Grounding and The Fundamental Resting Positions

"There are two basic ways that the process of grounding personal energy can be understood: one is physical, the other is mental.  Since mental processes are rooted in the body and bodily processes are experiential in nature, the two aspects of grounding are really one.  When we talk of being grounded in reality, we mean that an individual is both psychologically balanced and physically stable.  This ideal is expressed in the Latin phrase: mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body).  While the attainment of this ideal is made difficult by the stresses of life, it is important not to lose sight of the desirability of such a state.  Fortunately, there are practical means to assist us in moving our lives in a healthier, more grounded direction". - John Lawson

 

 The Importance of Grounding

A common and important term that is used in both spiritual circle’s and in body mind psychology- is grounding. It refers to the energetic state of the body and the orientation of the mind in an individual.

 

Grounding is about being centered in our primal core as a creature of the earth, present within physical reality and fully alive.

This, also by default taps into another concept that is referred to as embodiment.  To be embodied is to be deeply “present” within our bodies.  Intelligence is not just found in a single location (the cranial brain) but is spread across the whole body and thus the hands, arms, legs, feet, core, genitals, back and abdomen have their own innate awareness that offers perspective to the whole. Or in other words, as obvious as this may seem, we are not just our heads (regardless of what society tells you). 

The notion of embodiment helps us understand how present we are in various parts of our bodies. A person with a very large upper body and a very small lower body is a clear example of someone “being” more in one part of the body then the other.

The primary area through which we ground is through the legs/feet  and the state of these areas often say a lot about our connection to the earth/physical reality, (barring traumatic accidents that have left you permanently altered), if you are in pain in your lower body then there is pain in your root system.  Pain here is often a wounding with your perceived ability to survive; for how can you survive if you cannot stand on your own two feet.

 It is through the limbs that we interact with the world and our embodiment of the limbs has much to do with how grounded we are. 

Is our mental orientation pulled away from the demands of daily life- off in a daze of dreams or is our full mental and physical capacity available to us in the situations we need them in? For many the hope for spiritual enlightenment and connecting to our “higher selves”, is being done at the expense of our “lower selves” cutting off our spirit at the knees. 

13318646_10208281886423785_663148744_n.jpg

Grounding is not just a “concept” but an energetic state of the body and mind, being grounded means your mind and body are calm but have their full capacity at their disposal. You are not overly hyperactive and unable to relax or depressed and lacking vitality. A connection with the ground is balancing. 

If you are not in touch with the ground, energy moves upward into the shoulders, neck  and head, the breathing is high in the clavicles instead of low in the belly and the persons is hung up, anxious, heady and restless.

Another manifestation of the ungrounded state is the opposite: where the person feels cut off from the nourishment of their roots and the charge of the body is low resulting in a depressed state. The roots offer us a direct route to our innate vitality by tapping into our wild phenotype.  It brings on a harmony between our inner state and the state of the environment we are in.

Through my own process of transformation and growth I have found that understanding and reconnecting with the primal aspects of myself on a visceral level have been immensely powerful by allowing my psychosomatic self, a foundation.

It confers great nourishment and intensifies the experience of life to be connected with the primal spirit. It grounds our perspective allowing more ethereal realizations the capacity for deeper embodiment. The deeper my embodiment is the easier it is to bring the more nebulous spiritual realizations I have had into my daily life.  Being grounded is the opposite of being a space cadet. There is on spiritual paths today, the possibility of being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.

It is much easier today to “rise away” too far, then it was in previous times or even in some other parts of the world. The modern age, with all its benefits and positives, currently has an anti-body culture entrenched in it.  Many of the issues we currently face as a global society are directly related to being disconnected with the primal aspects of who we are as a species.

We have become "domesticated" and in this we have lost our full capacity for life like a tiger in a zoo.

 

As mentioned above, grounding happens predominantly through the lower body.

The important questions to ask ourselves are “what is our relationship to our lower body and what is its relationship to the ground?”

With these questions in mind let’s look at a contemporary western phenomenon: the chair. Sitting in chairs is a relatively new pattern that is in many ways harmful. Chairs are supposed to help us rest and take a load off, and while they do accomplish that, the human structure has positions inside its very design that are meant for that purpose: to rest. They are our resting positions and they are about our body’s relationship to whatever surface is directly below us.

The most commonly known position in this category is the squat, but there are many others.

During our development as infants, these positions are some of the most used and relished and before we can stand we must squat and before we can squat, we sit on the ground.  

Learning to let the ground support you is imperative, that is the purpose of a foundation: support. There was a point in the past where my knees were in pretty bad state, and trying to run just 10-15 feet could cause me to collapse in horrendous pain. Any type of squatting and kneeling was very difficult to do and I had a lot of fear surrounding those patterns. Certainly parts of it were emotional and showed in my lack  of connection with the world around me, but there is always a movement pattern connected to emotional states.

Slowly over time, with the aid of a staff that I used to lean against and support myself, as to not put too much pressure on my lower body, I regained my range of motion and can enter, be within and exit many of these fundamental positions without issue. At one point the thought of entering into a squat or sitting on the balls of my feet was a scary idea. Pain in the knees, ankles, hip and lower back can be a sign post that you are disconnected from the ground. 

Learning to take on the shape of ground support is powerful medicine for our relationship to our ancestral heritage.

 

“The opposite of movement is rest; one without the other is nonsensical. At rest we assume natural Archetypal Postures. The archetype is the original pattern or model from which copies are made; the best example or prototype of that class of objects. Archetype used in the context of human movement refers to postures that emerge from, and are embedded within, the interaction of many joints and many muscles. Losing access to our Archetypal Postures is a biomechanical peril. We sit on the floor in many postures that are our birthright, postures that our modern society neglects to value, instead preferring chairs and sofas. Rising from these Archetypal Postures to our full upright bipedal posture uses deeply embedded patterns of movement.” – Phillip Beach

 

Both in psychosomatic therapy and in fitness training, there are of a large variety of “exercises” designed to help you accomplish the goal of addressing the lower body. Body mind therapy has a variety of potentially useful ways to get us grounded and physical training has countless lower body drills (many of them also useful). While these exercises can accomplish the task of helping us become more grounded there exist movements that are inherently within the human structure which can accomplish the same and offer us something engineered movements can not.

Many of these movements are not “man made”, they are a part of the human body. I propose that these positions can be very useful in the goal of helping us ground and are priceless additions to getting out of pain. They are innate and thus are inherently primal. 

They also bring our attention into the lower body with a force and dexterity few things can parallel. They address and work with every angle in full range of motion that the lower body has at its disposal. With these factors in mind they can not only help us ground, they can help to educate the lower body, thus increasing its intelligence.

13329851_10208281883903722_835335801_n.jpg

 

Due to the fact that these are our natural resting positions, how easily you can enter, be within and the exit some of these positions can reflect the state of your overall recovery; meaning that they can be diagnostic to your overall structural and nervous system state.

They can as a result illuminate how tense and stressed you really are. There is no doubt that to be in these positions properly- requires an intense focus and awareness to enter into the lower body.  Aside from being energetically grounded, there is the issue of being viscerally grounded. The tension patterns that are ingrained into our structure matter a whole lot.

The same way a person’s posture can be slumped and “stuck” that way, the lower body can lack a type of tensional force that the human organism is designed to be exposed to, and thus it will not function properly without it.

This will affect every part of us from our feet to our finger tips. To recover these innate structures and put them underload for time, can help us reconnect with and embrace our inherent root system.

“ Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as all the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body-" Saraha